The football team has blazed to a this season and has handily beaten some tough opponents along the way.
On-field victories, however, are only part of the overall success equation for Bears Coach Ron Adams.
“Our kids are not here just to win football games,” Adams said.
With the help of Sportsleader.org, he has created a virtue program designed to help the teenage boys on his team properly transition into manhood. Sportsleader.org was founded in 2004 and offers resources for youth coaches nationwide who want to help their athletes avoid the negative influences in sports today and develop good personal habits.
As part of Adams’ plan, each week Roosevelt players and coaches focus on a particular virtue concept. Past weeks' concepts have been "tough," "dependable," "respectful" and "brave."
Players discuss the week’s virtue in small groups at practice and also report back to the coaching staff regarding how they applied that particular virtue in their daily lives.
“I like it a lot because it shows us young adults how to be men and grow up to be good people,” said senior lineman and linebacker Cody Foley.
Community service has been a way for the Bears to help others and put the virtues into action as an entire team.
Recently the Bears have planted flowers in downtown Wyandotte, read to elementary school kids and launched a cleanup effort at .
Adams said being a part of such charitable activities is a great learning experience for the players and has helped bring them together.
“What you end up discovering in many cases is that you're helping yourself,” Adams said.
This is the first year for the virtue program, which kicked off this summer with an overnight team campout on the home field. The camp allowed the players to hear from guest speakers on a variety of topics, which included overcoming major obstacles such as cancer or mistakes that lead to incarceration.
The camp also allowed players to bond by taking part in non-football-related activities together and by using some of the time to share thoughts and experiences with each other.
“It really brought me closer to my teammates and coaches,” senior co-captain Tyler Hamilton said of the camp. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Senior lineman Tim Veenstra said the camp was a moving experience for him as well.
“A really big impact was made on me as a person after this day,” Veenstra said.
Another part of the virtue program has been helping the players develop better relationships with their families.
Earlier this season, a father-son jersey night was held and players presented their fathers with a jersey. As part of the exchange, the two also had to publicly express their love for each other, which Adams said was an emotional, and even tearful, experience for some.
A father and son expressing such love for each other is a sign of true masculinity, said Lou Judd, a program director with Sportsleader.org since its inception in 2004.
Judd said a virtue program such as Wyandotte’s helps break down society’s “false masculinity” that is defined strictly by athletic ability, sexual prowess or money.
“A real man is courageous,” Judd said. “He seeks out the greater reward and has a greater purpose for his life.”
Adams devised specific virtue themes around each opponent his team faced this season.
- –Iron Willed